September 19, 2018 Articles

The Top Five Characteristics of the Best Salespeople Are Not What You Think

You may have all the makings of a successful rainmaker and not even know it yet.

By Allison Wolf

Ever wonder if you have the right personality to be good at business development?

In law firms, there is still this idea of the rainmaker as a smooth-talking, assertive, and maybe even aggressive self-promoter. In my personal experience, the great rainmakers are entirely different from this. As I write this article, I have two rainmakers in mind. The first is a business lawyer. He is the consummate professional. He is a quiet, soft-spoken man of few words. He has a sharp business mind that his clients appreciate. Although mentorship may not be his favorite thing, he has become very good at it; he delegates a great deal of work to his team, not because he enjoys supervising but because it is good for the lawyers under him and opens up room in his practice for new opportunities.

The second top rainmaker is one of the top commercial litigators in her city. She is known for vigorously defending the interests of her clients. She does this well because she invests considerable time in getting to know her clients and their businesses. She knows what’s at stake and what is most important. Her interest extends way beyond the limits of the file. She develops enduring relationships with many clients that continue well after the initial legal matter is resolved. She becomes, for many of them, their primary trusted advisor, a conduit to other lawyers who can serve their needs. She is also a passionate advocate of the younger lawyers at her firm and quick to actively cross-sell them to her clients.

To all you lawyers reading this article, let me tell you, you just might have what it takes to be a good—if not an excellent—rainmaker. In 2011, a Harvard Business Review blog post by Steve W. Martin, “Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople,” listed the top characteristics of the best salespeople, and most of them read like a description of the many lawyers I have the pleasure of working with:

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now